A Victor, Not A Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant's Overlooked Military Genius

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#21
No General Officer in the history of the U.S. Army has lost as many casualties to an adversary as did U.S. Grant to the Confederate States Army, relative to his own troop strength.

That's not to hate Grant, it's to tell the truth. If it upsets anyone, tough luck.

Was he a butcher? Hmm....
Probably true. But irrelevant. None of the others were fighting a Civil War in which the opponent was willing to sacrifice 1/4 of the men of the ethnically dominant population. There was only one Civil War, so there is no other data on Civil Wars.
 

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#23
So if you want to hang a label on Grant, fine with me. But between 1850-1860 the population of Illinois had doubled.
The demographic growth of the Midwest was extraordinary. The United States working age population at the time of the Civil War was being increased by international immigration, fleeing slaves, and southerners getting away from the war. Whether all of them or any of them fought, agricultural production in the US increased during the Civil War.
 
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#26
No General Officer in the history of the U.S. Army has lost as many casualties to an adversary as did U.S. Grant to the Confederate States Army, relative to his own troop strength.

That's not to hate Grant, it's to tell the truth. If it upsets anyone, tough luck.

Was he a butcher? Hmm....
This fact is in my opinion a credit to the fighting ability of the Army of Northern Virginia and the generalship
of Robert E. Lee (who was no slouch in anybody's book) rather than a slight against U. S. Grant.
 
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#27
Probably true. But irrelevant. None of the others were fighting a Civil War in which the opponent was willing to sacrifice 1/4 of the men of the ethnically dominant population. There was only one Civil War, so there is no other data on Civil Wars.
It's not "irrelevant," no matter how badly you want it to be. Again, no General of an American Army has ever done as badly as U.S. Grant, relative to his adversary.

Not General George Washington

Not General John Pershing

Not General Dwight Eisenhower

Not General Douglas MacArthur

Not General William Westmoreland

Not General Norman Schwarzkopf

Have I missed anyone? Only Grant killed his own men in far greater numbers than did anyone else in American history. That's a fact and not a value judgement.

*Edited*
 
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#28
Interesting list. But none of them fought in a Civil War, none of them were fighting other Americans. Only George Washington was fighting in a time before germ theory and modern medicine. But he was fighting a foreign enemy, whose monarch was having trouble raising regiments. And Washington got major assistance from a foreign country.
None of the others were fighting to destroy slavery within the US. So there appears to have been some distinguishing factors.
 

archieclement

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#29
Interesting list. But none of them fought in a Civil War, none of them were fighting other Americans. Only George Washington was fighting in a time before germ theory and modern medicine. But he was fighting a foreign enemy, whose monarch was having trouble raising regiments. And Washington got major assistance from a foreign country.
None of the others were fighting to destroy slavery within the US. So there appears to have been some distinguishing factors.
Neither was Grant fighting for independence……….
nor fighting a country bent on mass genocide.....
nor fighting a country willing to fight to the death and use kamikazes

If gauging the fighting efficiency of our enemies, casualties they inflicted compared to their size, would think it would be not put Wehrmact/Waffen SS at the top of list. Not to mention by the time we engage them, the flower of their army had been scattered across the Russian steppes

To suggest Grant alone faced somehow a more determined or deadly foe seems iffy to me, and also would ignore that's theres other CW generals to compare to as well.

If you have the superior numbers and material, simply grinding them down knowing you can accept casualties they cant, is a valid and potentially winning strategy that requires just numbers not genus. Its been done many times throughout history. When he loses 12738 to 5287 at Cold Harbor, or 42000 to 28000 at the siege of Petersburg it does appear a strategy he was willing to pursue.

And it worked.
 
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#31
War is not gin. The body count does not determine the outcome of the war. When one belligerent captures all the ports, cities, steamboats and important railroads, the other side does not get a consolation prize for having caused higher casualties among the winning armies. But people can take solace in the Confederate killing capability.
 

cash

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#32
"To turn from assaults to losses, there is nothing whatever to justify the common opinion that Grant wantonly sacrificed the lives of his men. It is true that during the last year of the war his losses were heavy, but it must be remembered that his efforts were continuous in order to prevent the Richmond Government from reinforcing Johnston." [J.F.C. Fuller, Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship, p. 272

Fuller provides the following tables of losses for both Grant and Lee in the first half of the war:

Grant-Lee-1.jpg
Grant-Lee-2.jpg


He says, "From these two tables we learn the following: In Grant's six battles, the average percentage of men hit, that is killed and wounded, was 10.03 per cent., and in Lee's ten the average was 16.20 per cent.." [Ibid., p. 273]

He then considers Grant vs. Lee in the last half of the war:

Grant-Lee-3.jpg


Here he says, "As no accurate figures exist for Lee's losses they cannot be given, which in itself shows the indifferent staff work in his army, but as regards Grant's, his average loss in these eight battles was 10.42 per cent., which compares closely with his average during 1862-1863, and is considerably lower than Lee's during the same period. Of forty-six battles, great and small, tabulated by Livermore in Numbers and Losses, in which casualties for both sides are given, the Federal losses work out at 11.07 per cent., and the Confederate at 12.25 per cent.; both of which figures are higher than Grant's total average of 10.225 per cent., and decidedly below Lee's average of 16.20 per cent., for the years 1862-63, in spite of the fact that they include his losses. That Grant's casualties were abnormally high is thus proved a myth, and one of the most persistent in the history of this war. It may, however, be said that as the Federals were generally numerically superior to the Confederates these percentages are misleading. As to this I do not agree, because the Federals were normally the attackers, and it is a well known fact that the attacker loses much more heavily than the defender, and out of all proportion when the defender is entrenched." [Ibid., pp. 274-275]
 
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#34
Studying the battle casualties is always interesting. But that leaves the problem of the deaths in the lowlands of Eastern Virginia, the high Confederate morbidity at Corinth, and the general problem of disease in stationary armies. Grant conducted two successful sieges. One of 47 days and one of 10 months and more. Both ended successfully.
General Jackson forced some US garrisons to surrender, but he did not have to conduct a siege. The only time the Confederates besieged a US Army the US broke the siege.
 

Cavalry Charger

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#36
I'd like to add something here which might not have been considered before, or maybe I just haven't come across this perspective in relation to 'Grant the Butcher'.

Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant was accused by Mary Lincoln and some Northern newspapers of being a “butcher” for the casualties incurred by the Overland Campaign of 1864. It’s a charge that was taken up by former Confederates and later members of the “Lost Cause”, who sought to portray a South that outfought the foul Yankees at every turn and was only overwhelmed by superior numbers. One inherent problem with this narrative’s accuracy is that Grant did not take exceptional casualties by Civil War standards, and his casualty rate across his Civil War career was in fact superior to Robert E. Lee’s; not that the two should be directly compared, as they faced different situations and challenges as generals.

More interestingly to me though is that of the two campaigns where Grant took his highest casualties, there was a common denominator. That denominator is that the overall strategy of the campaigns in question, to a varied extent, was set by someone else. In both cases, that person was Henry Halleck.

http://breckod.com/the-butcher-grant-or-halleck/
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#37
Boy, I don't know. Premise seems excusatory and I like Grant. If we're to accept Grant was acting for the greater good by some incredibly lavish use of troops in situations where he felt their sacrifice worth the gain, it's an awfully slippery slope. At least Lee was felt ( by some ) to be having some kind of off day, July 3rd, 1863. Well, Picket didn't, he was just understandably mad for the rest of his life.

But I'm a 'Yankee' unhappy with Sherman, too so what do I know.

Only thing Mary Lincoln said anyone listened to.
 

thomas aagaard

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#38
No General Officer in the history of the U.S. Army has lost as many casualties to an adversary as did U.S. Grant to the Confederate States Army, relative to his own troop strength.

That's not to hate Grant, it's to tell the truth. If it upsets anyone, tough luck.

Was he a butcher? Hmm....
Lee lost more of his men during his time in army command than Grant did. And he did it from a smaller army.
(even if we include his time in the east in Grant's numbers, even if Meade was in command of the AoP)

Before grant came East he fought fewer large battles than Lee and lost fewer men when he did fight.

If any one was a butcher, it was Lee.
 
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#39
It's not "irrelevant," no matter how badly you want it to be. Again, no General of an American Army has ever done as badly as U.S. Grant, relative to his adversary.
Actually no US Army commander ever lost as many men relative to his own troop strength as did R.E. Lee. And I hear no one calling him a butcher.
Have I missed anyone? Only Grant killed his own men in far greater numbers than did anyone else in American history. That's a fact and not a value judgement.
Except that it is not a fact. Lee did and what did it get him?
 



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